Ayubia Chairlift Expired 27 Years Ago and It’s Still Putting Tourist Lives at Risk [Update]

The Peshawar High Court Circuit Bench at Abbottabad on Friday issued a stay order on Galiyat Development Authority’s (GDA) decision of providing 110 kanals land to a private company, Manal Group, on a long-term lease for the Ayubia chairlift.

The existing chairlift was procured in 1963 and expired 27 years ago in 1994. The chairlift has been in shambles for well over a decade and requires immediate attention. The GDA had, therefore, declared it unsafe for tourists, and wanted to replace it with a new one.

In this regard, the authority had issued a long-term lease of 110 kanals land to Manal Group to install a state-of-the-art chairlift on the same track.

The decision, however, did not bode well with local mafias, who along with Galiyat Tahafuz Movement, a community-based social organization, filed a petition against the project and won an interim status quo.

The petition filed with PHC’s Circuit Bench at Abbottabad stated that the long-term lease agreement made by GDA with M/s Monal Group is “unlawful, illegal and ultra vires to the provision of Forest Act, Wildlife Act, Galiyat Development Authority Act,” and violates the fundamental rights of the locals.

It maintained that a 60-kanal patch of land leased to the private firm falls under the jurisdiction of Ayubia National Park, hence, it cannot be leased out.

The petitioners also named a number of sections from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Ordinance 2002 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife & Biodiversity Act 2013, which the GDA breached while granting the lease.

After hearing the argument, the two-member bench, comprising Justice Ibrahim Khan and Justice Shakeel Ahmed issued an interim stay order and sought a response from GDA within two weeks. The court fixed October 19 as the next date of hearing.

Update: GDA decided to close the lift today after public outrage and Twitter trends, however, the locals forced the police and have restarted the lift. The chairlift is still putting the lives of tourists at risk, however, the locals are only interested in making money out of it without any regard for human life.

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